Embankments chief cause of Kosi misery, says report
New Delhi: A report prepared by a civil society-based factfinding team on the flooding in north Bihar has asserted that the embankments along the Kosi river have been the chief cause of misery.
The team led by flood expert Dinesh Mishra and others has recommended that the embankments should be demolished carefully to ensure that the region does not suffer further.
“There is a precedence of embankment demolition in India. The embankments created along a length of 32km on river Damodar in 1854 were demolished in 1869 when the British realised that far from controlling floods, the embankments were submerging fertile land,” said Sudhirendar Sharma, co-author of the report, which is titled “Kosi Deluge: The Worst is Still to Come”.
The authors have also pointed out that the Dutch government too had preferred to let rivers Rhine and Meuse be managed as flood plains instead of locking them with embankments after the latter had failed to control floods.
The team, in its report points out, that the work on embankments on the Bagmati river and tributaries of the Mahananda had already begun despite the Kosi havoc.
The authors noted that the embankments had, instead of managing floods, resulted in increasing the flood prone area in the state from 2.5 million hectares in 1950s to as high as 6.8 million hectares now.
Reiterating a point that civil society groups have been making since the disaster struck, the report warns that the proposed dam on Kosi in Nepal could not be passed off as a flood control measure as its sole purpose was to generate power.
It pointed that the jacketing of Kosi had prevented its annual estimated silt load of 92.5 million cubic metres from spreading and improving soil fertility in the basin. Conversely, the deposition of silt has contributed to increasing the riverbed by as much as four metres. As a result, the adjoining drainage had been obstructed causing water logging over an area of 8,360 sq kilometres or 16% of the total area in North Bihar.